From Publishers Weekly
When cartoonist Mack decided to use a 1980 Greenwich Village bisexual conference as grist for his Village Voice
comic strip, he never guessed the globe-trotting freelance writer he met there would become the love of his life. But Janet Bode's magnetism and trademark single earring soon had him under her sway and before he knew it, the two were sharing everything from travel adventures down to a single egg (he ate the white; she ate the yolk). Mack's tale of how his and Bode's easy companionship was derailed by Bode's breast cancer is unique for many reasons, but his improbably moving and downright funny illustrations drive this book right out of the crowded field of cancer memoirs. For instance, directly beneath his description of learning the initial diagnosis in a busy hospital corridor, Mack includes a sketch of the couple reeling in the wake of the rushed, insensitive surgeon. The flabbergasted looks on their faces speak volumes. Drawings of Mack and Bode's friends and caregivers appear alongside brackets containing each one's memories of the cancer's progression and how Bode coped with her increasingly bleak prognosis. This unusual technique gives everyone their own voice and, more importantly, it gives characters—especially Bode—a sense of life. Refreshingly, the dying patient never comes across as faultless; as one friend recalls, "My dear friend was dying and she was still giving me shit."
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Cartoonist Mack and YA nonfiction author Janet Bode lived in unmarried bliss for 18 years, the last five clouded by the cancer that killed her. Mack introduces those final years with a two-page synopsis of them and a flash-forward to her memorial and his loneliness thereafter, which eventually led him to create the book. Then he retreats to when Janet first noticed the lump in her breast and tells the long version. She was feisty, funny, and rather in denial about her illness. He was the consummate helpmeet, maybe a bit enabling of her denial. Their love held firm, and they lived as they had, including hiking in far-flung places for recreation. She kept up promotional gigs for her books; confined to the apartment less than a month from death, she dressed for book parties her sister and friends attended for her. Illustrating more than cartooning, keeping vocabulary and syntax beautifully simple, and happily marrying text and drawing on every page, Mack surpasses himself as artist, writer, and designer. Ray OlsonCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved